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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  September 12, 2009 12:00am-12:30am EDT

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tavis: good evening from los angeles. first up, part 2 of mht expose of cnversation with jayleno. seember 14 -- my eclusive conversation witgillette appeared also, mark johon, the man behind a unique pbs docuntary clled "playing for chge." it features musians from all around the world playing the same songs.
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t jay leno and "playing r cnge" are coming up now. >> therere so many things that l-mart is looking forward to doing ware looking forward to help hep build strongerommunities and lationships. with your help, the best yet to come. >> nionwide insance probabl supports tavismiley. tavis and naonwide insurance, working to improve financial literacy and the economic empoweent comes with it. >> and by contribuons torou pbstation from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made ssible by kcet plic televisio captioned by e national captiing institute tavis: the second part of exclusive convertion with jay leno beginsith him sharing
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stories about his youth from new england. >> y grew up in a funny household. >> i guess. probably when i was in high school. my mother nver got cedy. one time iwas playing carnegie hall. my firs time at carnegie hal i invited my parentto the show. my moer is sitting third row center. behind my mom are fiv college kids. i had done 25 or 30 letterman shows. ese college kids were fans. i get on stage and i started the act. i hear tse guys laughing. my mother turns red a goes shh. mom, yodo not shh people atc
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comedy show. she had been singled out car -- at a comedy show. she had been singled out at canegie hall. le me stay home one day. she said okay. my mom was going out of town. enever you do, d do noto near the high scol. being a idt, i had to go up to the highchool -- high- school at lunchtime. by bernd rort just as the vice principal concept and he sees . -- burned rubber just a the cerincipal comes out and sees me. hcalled tom and she says that i' sk. my mother is standing behind the door with a big pot. she goesong and knocks me out with thispot. now i am out cold we have to go to the high school and the prinple is yelling
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me. you are suspended for three days. you, mother who wod lie. my mother got -- never got ou of the second grade she ha great respect for education. it was a funny place to grow up. >>what did your father- a working guy -- >> my dad was a prizefighter, a truck driver, and heold insurce. i w proud of my dad. he worked for the prudentl insance co. in new york. they said, what is your heart is route? harlem. nobody wants to buy insurance up there. my dad did not like racis he says theyre black people, why would theyot buy insance? my dad went door-to-door and haarlems selling nicol policies.
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when my dadassed away,i talked about it o the tight show. i talked to a womawho was 7 years old. when she was in litt girl, here is a white n who ce to their hou. she said thate washe first whi personhat had ever had dinner in their house. it was the first white man that s had ever talked with. she said that she was very nice was that yo dad? e just cried. dad reallyelieve that stuf if anybody said anything, he would deck you. he never liked tt kind of talk. i was proud that he had such an influence on her life. my dad wathe only white men who had never ha dinner in their aptment. he would collecthe nick and give them the receipt for the insuran policy.
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>> did thatave anything to do with the embrace you have had of african ericans on the sho not just in the band, bu leading the band >> to me, thiis a problem. i doot get what ople do not get along. it is an importan part of america. the show should look like america. when we staed "e tonight show" he handled the music and i kendall the comedy. we neer had a setup where i was e boss. we were always eal on the show. thfunniest thing to me was th whenever wdo jaywaing, when there is an afcan american guy i see him go like this. nowe represents all african americans. when we watched tv and "the
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untouchables" were o the italan guy was eating the sali. whdo they aays havto have that? turn it off. my grandther would do that. my grandfath was italy and hardlspoke english. he was always amed that people would eat out of their ethnic group. look a tt, black guy eatg spaghetti a chinese guy eatng a hot dog. he wasmazed that blk america -black people woul eat afcan-american food. he would aways comment when someone was eing out of their ethnic group. this ways strucke even as a little kid. >> your dad and mom and lived long enough to see yobecome successfu prior to that,hat did ur workin dad think of his son going into show busine?
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>> life - my parents were always fine. fiish school and you uldo whateverou want. in 1992 i as on the cover of " time at" magazine. i said that am on thecover of time magine. which one? it is the big o. i will pick thatp. i said, call my aunt. a long pause. i think thathey put yo on the cover here because you are from thiarea. why would theyut you on the cover in new york? i on the cover everywhe. it a national magazine she thinks that i was on the cover r the people in andover, massachusetts. they got it,ut they never got it.
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any relation to jay leno he i my son. you know my boy? here is my number. ca him. that, stopiving my number. he knew you. no, he does not know me. we would go on and on. my dad went out to get a paper a magician set up s table. he said, lk at that. my moc -- my father sat downnd watch the guy do tricks. i said tha myoy does a show. i will call came up. ey got into it but th never quite got it. tavis: that is funnytuff. now that that is behind you -- >> you open the door. he opened the door to this line of questioning.
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what do you want to ask me >> you did. tavis: it n thatwe're past the late night head-to-head competion, what did yu make of all of the articles and all of the media? >it is fun. peopleave their own opini of what happened and thats what it is. the only ti i get in an argunt is when people t the facts wron whenever you see, that is what you see. it ds not botheme a lot. are you referng to something ecific? tavis: over the course of that 17-year period, i wanted to know what your relationship was like. >> my relationship with dave? i do noteally have a relationship with dave. i was guest hosting the show from 1986-1992.
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then the show wa given to me. letterman and his people thought the show wasoing togo to m. whenever probms he had wit the network, it did no that way. i was peeived to be a sneaky person that sto the show. itis not really the case. was working the everyeek. th said, dyou want to do this? i said sur iaid that i would love to do th show. i was rceived as some sort of bad guy. two guys want to play football or get ithe boxinging and one ns and one does not. it does not mean that you are not friends. ve took it apart. -- hard. if wwereboth in the same city, we would bump into eac other. we are on different coas.
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>> you wer on letterman dng great stand-u you stl do stand up today. why do you ill do it? >> if you are a runner, you have to run. if you are in a musicn, you can play the piano and write songs. you cnot yell t jes into anempty room. most comics need to wo. for me, to go to vegas and do a minute show, it is likgoing to the gymnasium for 90 mines. if you do notay the materi and do it, it atroies and goes away. i like i i didhis for years. you stink. t off t stage. r years and yars. i used to open for miles das and mdy waters and all of these guys. we had two shows. the first sh ialk up on stage a guy comes up behind me with a catch-up bottle d knocks me up
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col they drag me off the stage. ck comes out and says " i am talking you. you should have seen that guy. i did not se him. hejumped me from behind. i've lo $75. ears of doing that. now yoare at the pointwhere people wa to come see you. if heorked inn offe and there is a fun stor if you tellthem the fnny story and yo will ugh. pretty soon, you areaiting for peop to walk by your desk. by the endf the day, y have got the story down. you are killing. it is harious. you think of joke and you cannot wait toet out and tel it. >> what made the, the stt to rk for you? was it because became more pular and peopleanted to see you or to theomedy get betr? >> i think the comedgot better. i was primarily a nightclub
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comic. johy give me some good advice. he said th you sell a joke well, but the jokes you were selling, were not that gd. i could get laughs bed on the physality othe joke. he wrote the joke out, iwas not that funny. i lrned that from johnny. you keep tightening and tighting and throw out everying that is not fny until iis onlythis big. it really tight and really strong. that is the real trick. it is more eding. you keep throwingut things that a not funny until you have the best ke. a ye later, what -- what was your fnniest joke is probabl not youreakest joked. you just keep moving them bac tavis: your fns know your process. you do the show.
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at night when y and your ys get together, is your process going to stay the se? >> is basically the same period of t things that remain on the sw will be there. t monologue works, jaywaing and that kin of stuff. we wi move and lot othis stuff to theack 15 minutesf the show becausewe want to hava strong lead in for the nightly ne. if you keep them up until 12:00, you have that long six-minut commercial. now door fighting sleep you havthe comedian, the author, and the bad. they drift of when y are doing primetime, you do the wholeour solid. tavis:hat do you think about the cash for clunkers proam? >> i do not have any clunker i guess it is ok it is good and that stimulates the economy. we have all of thi cheese, how
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about eat cheese and get a check. soonerr later, are goi to ff to produce something. ey want to legalize marijuana. i am agait it, not because of marijuana. we havlegalized gambling. there is no product. we do not ke anything anymore. if business is making plenty of money,nd then legalize marijuana. that is whacalifornia needs, re high people. i donot get it. i would like to see factories makg products at the rest of the worldants to buy. then people come iand mak produc to agment that produ. that isow you raise tax revenue. gambling,drinking, how about prostution? where is your se?
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tavis: i am cious. i enjoy hanging out at at garages. >> th was fun when you ce over. tavis:hat is thlast thing you got? >> the st thing a that was pretty cool. it was a chrysler germanar. th built that in the middle 196's. i managed to procure one of those. tavis: i am laughing now thinking abouthat your mom saito yo. now the show is called "the jay leno show. >> m big shot h to have his na onverything. my father would say, the letters are not g enough. my parents would come toegas. whenever uare in vegas they
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have the beautif spread in th dressing room with liquors a wines and put out cheesesnd all kindsf stuff. i am playing in massachusetts in the auditorium. i am backstage a you are essentially in the locker room. there are a couple of sodas. you know, m boy playsvegas. th put a spread out. that, you are not my manager. i will take --ad, you are not my manager. i will te care of thi tavis: "e jay leno show close " :00,tarting september 14. just in case you need one more reason to tune into this for show on september 14, here it is. th musical lineup y-, kanye,
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and riyadh up -- rihanna together. up next, a producer lksbout "playing for change " " mark johnson is a gmmy-winning producer and enginr that was the dring force behind a unique documentary. it ftures over 100 musians from around thworld that have recorded and edited this together. this film is called "playingor change " " it i airing throughout the mnth on most pbs stations. >> ♪ stand by me darlinng, darlin
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stand by may stand by me darling, darling, standy me stand bayy me -- by me. ♪ tav: nice to meet you. what a unique concep thisdea comes from where? >> the origil ideaame about 10 years ag i was woing in new yorks a recording engineer. i was in a subway station i saw it two months paint all in whiterom head to t. both of them werelaying music. on this one day sawabout 200 peoe stop.
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everybody is wating this mus. people's jobs were droppin i sought aollection of people. they are cming togeer because ofhis music. i got on a train and wt to the studio. the best music i ever heard my life is onts way to the studio. great mus and great art are just moments in time and they ist everywhere. we can use ese moments to connect eryone together. we wantedo find gret musical moments and connect them together with songs are arod the world. >> one of theongs that i got myttention isthese gorgeous an wonderful locatis that you shoin. the guy on the bea, and you found him in his environment. for all of ese othe artists same thing? >> platts record th and fell
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on them and tir natural nvironments where they are nspired to play. there is no separinion between music and people. on concerts' you hve tickets and they stag someby plays a song and omebody else can wat -- walk by and have it live changing experience. tavislet's talk about the larger gl for the proje. it is not just something inventivand innovive lik recoing 100 ople in their natural habitats. here is a purpose behind this. >> the purpose is to inspire the planet. during a time ithe world in whch there souchivision, we needto cree things that ing usogether. we believe tatusic d inspition are two great ways to remind us that we are l together on this planet. one of the musician said that this world is ours. is not his or hers or theirs,
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it is ours. when we can inspire people too something bigger than themselves,t helpss leave the world bett than when we fnd it. >> this f m is a philosophical estion that i debated for years with a friend of mine. it was about the present power of sic. y are puing a lot on the poer. you have a lot ring on the power d the capacity and the potential do you think that mic can do all of that? >> music is one of the ings in the world that n definitely do all of that. politics and religion, the inherently divide pple. music can get from onpart to another heart. it can overcome all of tse divisions and bring us back to where were all connected. that is why music ishe best way to ipire people to start believing in each ther.
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tavis: howo you knowwhen you're in the engineering ud -- you dnot have to knowthis when youare recorded- recded. the various music genres all ed in to the same song are going to work. >> definitely. >> we mad them as we went. we d not leave a lot of editing for later. we had a concept wit the musicians of what instruments might work well togeth. the zulu choir in south aica. wedid not know th they were goingto bsinging zulu. this opened up all of these ne opportunities. we can make thingsore tural and not make them do something that what ey werordinarily doing
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>> you did not think t zulu choir was going to si in zulu? i am just teasing. it is a great oject. the proje- norman leafirst call me abt this. the project is called "playing forhange " "it is playing on most pbs stations this nth. congratulations. i am glad t have you on the program. that is our show for the night. you ca access their rad podcast at we will see you next time o pbs. as always, ke the faith. >> for more informationn that next time. we will see you then.
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there are so many things th wal-mart is looking forward to doing li helping people live bett. we are mtly looking forward to buiing strong communies and relationips. with your help, the best is yet to come. >> nationwe surance probably pports tavis smiley. tais and natiwide iurance, workg to improve fincial literacy dhe economic emperment that comes wh it. >> and by ntributions to your pbstation from viewers like you. thank u. [captioning de possible by kc public televisio
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